Workshop C: The Pandemic Pivot: Responsive Educational Activities during the COVID-19 Pandemic at SPH Accomplishments, Lessons Learned, Going Forward

The Pandemic Pivot:

Responsive Educational Activities during the Covid-19 Pandemic at SPH Accomplishments, Lessons Learned, Going Forward 


Carol Dolan, PhD,1 Matthew Fox, DSc,2 Jean Van Seventer, VMD,3 Davidson Hamer, MD,4 Ilana Schlesinger, MA,5 and Michael Lavalley, PhD6

Departments of  1Community Health Sciences, 2Epidemiology, 3Environmental Health, 4Global Health, 5Graduate Student Life, and 6Biostatistics

Boston University School of Public Health


We will describe 5 creative ways in which SPH Faculty/Staff addressed the challenges and opportunities during the covid-19 pandemic, via education and supports for students. We invite participants to formulate ideas for applying Lessons Learned to their future student-focused endeavors.
Target Audience: Faculty and staff engaged in teaching, research and student life.

Learning Objectives:

• Learn from peers several ways SPH responded to educational challenges presented by the pandemic
• Formulate ideas and strategies for courses, research opportunities, and student services that can be applied post pandemic

Part One: Five “Lightning Talks” (50 min)

1) Matthew Fox describes PH784, Science in a Pandemic, about the challenges of being a scientist in global pandemic, what it means for science in normal times. Issues include: speed vs validity tradeoff, difficulties making decisions with incomplete data, challenges of good scientific communication, risks to putting science out before having complete information. Students created their own scientific communication podcast.

2) Jean van Seventer & Davidson Hamer developed PH783 Topics in EH: Local and Global Public Health Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic which covered many epidemiological aspects of the pandemic, social determinants of health related to COVID-19, and the impact of the disease on marginalized populations. This course was taught by multiple faculty and subject matter experts across the BU medical campus.

3) Eleanor Murray and Jennifer Weuve started the Epidemiologic COVID-19 Response Corps in May 2020 with the goal of coordinating research, outreach, and policy impact for epidemiologists affiliated with BU, involving 20+ faculty/alumni mentors and 140 student volunteers. Many students used COVID Corps work as their MPH practicum. Projects include: estimating excess deaths due to COVID, impact of face mask mandates, a weekly web series of COVID explanation videos and writing magazine articles.

4) Carol Dolan will discuss the development and delivery of a series of workshops for faculty on trauma responsive teaching, ways for faculty to manage our concerns and those of students, some practical tips and resources to bring into the classroom.

5) Ilana Schlesinger, SPH Wellness Coordinator describes how the GSL team transitioned to providing services for students to support their mental, physical, and emotional needs during the pandemic, including individual meetings, weekly wellbeing programming, advocating for students’ needs with professors.

Part Two: Interactive Component (40 min.)

Moderators will ask the Panel about challenges faced, rewarding outcomes achieved, and lessons learned that they will carry forward. Audience will be asked to describe how their educational activities were affected during the last year, what innovations they used to enhance their responsiveness, and which lessons learned could they adapt and apply to their own work.